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World Cup 2010

Upsets & Injustices Continue

World Cup 2010

Upstarts & Favourites Shaking Out

The folks who like to feel smug about how much they know about football are probably feeling pretty raw right now. Spain fans had to believe they would be cruising toward the final, but there couldn’t have been many out there who predicted that Germany and the Netherlands would be rising as favourites for the Cup by the Semi-final stage. I love the drama of the upsets up to now, though that has to be tempered by the fact that three of four semi-finalists are major European football powerhouses. For all the discussion up to now of South America’s rising strength in the sport, the bottom line remains that European countries continue to dominate the game. Find me the person who picked Uruguay to be the last South American nation in the tournament.

My Picks

Netherlands: I think the Netherlands are on a roll. Uruguay got lucky (more below) in moving past Ghana, but they are going to have to find a much better game to beat the Dutch. They’ve played well so far, but maybe haven’t faced the quality and depth of a first class side up to now. The Orange are getting better with each match, I think they look sure to play in the finals.

Germany: The Germany-Spain match up probably should be the final, as I think these two teams are the best in the competition. While it would be foolish to underestimate the Spanish side, the Germans have looked far more capable and resourceful and especially so in their big games. I’m picking Germany to move ahead, setting up a final showdown against the Netherlands.

Rule Failure

The fiasco that ended overtime in the Ghana-Uruguay game is probably the worst black eye the game has taken in the tournament to date. And there have been lots of contending offences from the officials so far. This one, however, has less to do with the referees decision on the field and more to do with the rules on the book. Let’s consider:

The foul: A ball that is definitely going into the goal is deliberately and illegally knocked out by a defender using his hands.

The punishment: A red card is issued the player. A penalty kick is offered the team denied the goal.

It’s the second part of the punishment that really needs to be examined. Why is a penalty kick the appropriate remedy to a sure goal denied by an illegal and deliberate hand? Why introduce the possibility of Ghana not scoring (with a spot kick) when their goal was stolen by an illegal infraction. It seems that favours the illegal defense and encourages defenders to use their hands in such cases because it preserves the possibility of a sure goal not being a goal. In other words, the only realistic solution to this scenario is a red card for the infraction and the ruling of the play as a goal. End of controversy. End of injustice.

If this had been the play to end the final game for the Cup, would FIFA have been proud of this result? If Su├írez boasts of his accomplishment and becomes his nation’s hero because he blatantly violates the letter and spirit of ‘no hands’ in a football match, shouldn’t FIFA be looking at how their rules and officiating allow this scenario to occur in the first place?

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